In-depth reviews

Renault Clio review - Engines, performance and drive

The Renault Clio is good fun to drive and rides well, with the TCe 90 petrol engine a competent performer

The Clio has garnered a reputation for driving thrills over the years that Renault has been keen to uphold; it follows that the current model should offer a good driving experience, hitting the supermini benchmarks for ride quality, handling and performance.

On the road, the Clio feels like a quality product. It seems planted on the move, with positive steering and a pointy front end that turns eagerly into corners. The suspension is well-judged, offering great pliancy over bumps big and small but sacrifices a little comfort in the name of body control. It runs the Ford Fiesta close in this department but ultimately isn’t quite as much fun.

The high-mounted six-speed manual gear lever works well ergonomically but doesn’t have the most engaging gear change action. Changing gear is a more pleasurable experience in a Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo, but there’s nothing especially terrible about the Clio’s manual ‘box.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

The entry-level SCe 65 1.0-litre petrol engine has now been discontinued, and we're not sad to see it go. It offered 65bhp and 95Nm of torque, mated to a five-speed gearbox, and was probably best left for low-mileage, urban use; a sluggish 17.1-second time from 0-62mph highlighted its shortcomings and it just wasn't as flexible as its turbocharged counterpart in everyday driving. 

Our pick of the range – the TCe 90 – adds a turbocharger to the above, resulting in 90bhp, 160Nm of torque and a much more acceptable 0-62mph time of 12.2 seconds. It’s not the best small petrol engine in the Clio’s class – the 1.0-litre EcoBoost in the Fiesta feels stronger – but it’s a serviceable choice that blends zippy performance with decent running costs and low emissions. Renault now offers the TCe solely with a six-speed manual, although it was previously available with the option of a CVT auto, too.

The E-Tech Hybrid 145 uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine and an electric motor, producing 143bhp. 0-62mph takes 9.9 seconds, with a 112mph maximum.

Next Steps

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SCe 65 Iconic 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,520

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 SCe 65 Iconic 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,520

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TCe 90 Iconic 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,220

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